Team India start their World Twenty20 Cup campaign with questions raised on whether they have the right coach and the team to get it right. Doubts are also being raised on whether their players are in the right frame of mind with the court ruling on the Indian Premier League (IPL) betting scandal round the corner.
It comes as no surprise then that Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni flew out for the World Cup without the customary press meet before an overseas tour. Interestingly, although these factors are all beyond the control of the players, it is likely to affect the team morale.
It is a known fact that Team India encounter more pressure off the field than on it. As regards the coach’s issue, Duncan Fletcher was never the right candidate for the job. Only when a great player like Sunil Gavaskar criticised Fletcher that it has become magnified.
Fletcher was actually appointed to play the role of just being part of the team and not make any noise at all. In fact, all successful coaches for Team India have always followed this unwritten rule. No one ever felt the presence of John Wright when he was the coach, while Gary Kirsten inspired the team without rubbing any senior player the wrong way. But what happened to a strong coach like Greg Chappell is known to everybody.
Fletcher could neither guide the players nor inspire them. If there is any coach in the world who looks so unfit, it is him. In modern cricket, where fitness plays a key role, a coach should inspire his players with his own fitness. Kirsten was so fit that he could throw down nearly 500 balls a day to Sachin Tendulkar at the nets to help shape his drives. Another example of how a coach’s fitness can be inspirational is that of the UAE team qualifying for two formats of the World Cup this year. UAE coach Aaqib Javed is so fit that he can be mistaken for a player; and the extent to which he works out during training sessions by even bowling to his players has been extremely motivating for the team.
Team India won the Twenty20 Cup in 2007 when they were least expected to win. When expectations mount, the team’s drawbacks also get highlighted. Be it the wrong coach, imperfections in team selection, or the IPL shame, everything gets wiped out if they start winning. There is no better antidote for Team India’s flaws than by emerging as the best in World Twenty20 Cup; or else all the defeats in South Africa, New Zealand and Asia Cup will raise their dirty heads soon.